The soul never forgets
Born in Dallas, Texas, but full of Filipino blood, June Marieezy is one of those rare artists that have an immediate impact on you when you first listen to them. There is a certain energy, freshness and laid back catchiness about her that instantly make you want to listen to more. Her flow, breezy voice and dedication to her cultural roots and musical influences shine through every single track she has released and her distinct soulfulness is delightful and sexy, but never in your face. Experimenting across various genres – from R&B, and soul to rock, jazz and hip hop - she really has created her own, unique sound. And although June Marieezy hasn’t hit the headlines quite yet, you will definitely hear a lot more from this young woman in 2015. Now, start floating!
June, your parents are from the Philippines, but you were born in Dallas, Texas and lived there for a long time. How much of an influence did your dad, who was a sound engineer/musician and also growing up in the US have on your music?
“It both influenced me, especially my dad. It would be whatever my dad was playing and I remember him singing and improvising on the keyboard. We had a lot of equipment and speakers in the garage. He’s a ‘Do It All Yourself’ kind of person so I kind of went with him as well and just had fun, pretending that I knew what I was doing when I was singing and dancing. He was into Michael Jackson, Eagles, the Bee Gees, just a lot of good stuff. And then there was the radio off course. But I was really bored with the songs on the radio after a while because they were all very predictable at that time when I was 14. So my dad influenced me first and then moving to the Philippines when I was 15 was important. It was just spontaneous, I always was supposed to go for a year, but I found music production, so that kind of led me to more music and I stayed in the Philippines for seven more years.”
Was it a bit of a culture shock moving there in the first place?
“Yeah, the only thing that was the same was the sky. It both has its ups and downs but it was definitely worth it because the kind of field trips in the Philippines that we were having involved getting on boats and then you just go off into the ocean and visit some island. That was the field trip compared to going to a museum or a factory in Dallas. So that really tripped me out.”
Did the move to the Philippines help you to get in touch with your true self, to look more at the spiritual side of life and to appreciate what nature has to offer us…
“…yeah, yeah it really changed the way I see things. It was just something about wanting to be a kid forever. I mean I think there has always been the spirituality. When I was a kid I was still doing things like meditating but I just didn’t know it was meditating. I didn’t realize that it was okay until I met other people that do it. It’s more about being what I want to be and not what people want me to be. It’s about how you are behaving as such, like talking to plants, dancing out of nowhere or just singing whenever you like it. So yeah, I just found a happier lifestyle pretty much. In Dallas I was in high school and I was into basketball…in fact if I didn’t make an A my parents would ground me and in many ways I was very enclosed. It was amazing coming out to the Philippines and seeing this whole other place and then seeing how that blew my mind away. There was just something more meaningful, just the whole vibe. I fell more and more into that and into nature and I saw the difference between rushing, doing a lot of things and looking at the things that are truly important, like your mind, body and spirit. It reminded me of everything that matters: simplicity, minimalism, less stress, a healthier and happier lifestyle, creating, exploring and adventuring.”
You have released two EPs so far and especially ‘Virgo’ the record you put out last year is a beautiful, very accomplished piece of music. Tell me about this EP. Who did you record it with and how would you describe the vibe of it?
“’Virgo’ came together when I went to the US and I had been in the Philippines for five years and I really missed Dallas. So I went back to see my mum and family because they are all not in the Philippines pretty much. When I was in the US I felt encaged, because I was used to being free on the beach, just running around and doing whatever I want to do. And also the music scene was so dope in the Philippines. There is a lot of great talent over there - and being in the US again, away from all that and what I built musically made me feel a lot of things. I had more of a yearning to feel what I feel when I’m in the Philippines again because it’s the ideal lifestyle really and Dallas is the complete opposite. I can’t just deal with the whole 9 to 5, getting a job, going to school type of life. I feel it’s not really needed and for me the world that we can build is about nature and based on being healthy and being loving - that kind of calm energy. So that’s what ‘Virgo’ was about, just missing it and feeling that I can’t go anywhere. Even if I did ride my bike anywhere there would be the same scenery and you would be tired by the time you’d get out of the neighbourhood. That was my situation, so it’s about energy, it’s about nature, definitely about the Philippines, about the people who are there, that I’m thinking about, and that are doing what they are doing in this enlightening and incredible country. All the things that we already have are really magical and there’s no need to want all the lights and all the material things. A lot of people are really living in majesty. They may not have money but they are still happy and to realize that is a strong feeling and you’d hope that more people in the US or in Western cultures realize that as well. It’s like ‘preserve the beauty that is already there’. I stayed in this artist eco village in Palawan, which is an island. They are all healing themselves and healing nature and they are building schools there in the nature, so it’s all about self-sustaining lifestyles.”
It’s a bit of a cliché, but it sounds like a much more simple but meaningful lifestyle.
“Right. There are just so many beautiful places and I didn’t even know about them. I didn’t really dive into it as much as I wanted to before, but now I just want to share this with people, you know that they don’t have to do things they don’t want to do and that they should live however they want to live. It’s paradise and it’s important to preserve that paradise. I mean the earth is its own organism and some of the things that are happening in society just don’t make sense. This power-driven urge for control is insane. I guess we can possibly change that but it’s pretty crazy really.”
Tell me about your trip to this remote mountain tribe where you got your traditional tribal tattoo. That must have been a pretty eye-opening experience as well?
“Oh yeah, I went to see the Kalinga, that’s what the tribe is called. To see how they used to live and how they still live now and how to be self-sustained, was amazing. The journey there takes about 12 hours, it’s a long hike up the mountain and they do the tattoos traditionally with a pine needle. There is just one woman, who is 92 now, and she does it and she put it on my arm. It was a very interesting, beautiful experience because they are living in the jungle and it’s in the middle of nowhere with nothing going on. You really learn about yourself, your body and what you are capable of potentially reaching in a spiritual way.”
Tell me about your most recent track ‘Fly’. What was the inspiration behind it and who produced it?
“When I went to the Philippines I met this guy, Justin De Guzman from ‘Deeper Manila’ and he started his own label and made some music as well and I was on it. He produced five of my tracks and he’s one of my best friends as well, working-wise, collaborating, talking about anything – he’s forever a soul mate in that way. ‘Fly’ - we just made like that. I sang on top of one of his tracks, he thought it sounded dope, he took the vocals off and made the full song and then I added the verses. I mean it’s a special song because of where we shot the video as well. It’s a place where my friend inherited a beach house and I went there four years ago. When I first went there I had an amazing experience and I felt a lot of things and it opened up my ‘Third Eye’ in a way. It was very powerful and you could really feel certain things that you can’t feel in the city. I just kept wanting to go back to that and the ‘Fly’ video we shot there at the same spot and that was really awesome. I mean doing music really helped me to come back to the Philippines and making that track and putting it out was magic in itself. But then shooting the video that year with the same people who were with me and who I care about and who have the same vision, it was a very meaningful experience.”
It sounds like you don’t spend too much time in Manila when you are in the Philippines, but there is a good music scene there, right?
“Yeah whenever I’m there, I’m trying to get out of Manila because I prefer the nature. But there is a scene there with very talented people that strike a chord in me, that makes me want to stick around and support it. So yeah, there are some very talented artists and I’ll probably post their music along the journey as well to share it.”
Do you have any plans to go back to the US?
“I’m always going back to the States for my family. I came here in February and I thought I was going for a festival for two weeks, but I ended up being gone for over a year. Well, someone stole my passport, so it was meant to be for me not to go back to Dallas. But yeah, it was exactly what I wanted on this island anyway. I was thinking ‘Shit my passport’ but then it was like ‘Yes, I can stay’. But the passport came back to me eventually. Someone found it on some island in the South of the Philippines and I was in the North. I mean it’s paradise and you don’t really want to leave. I guess it was an accumulation of my years of meaning to leave and then wanting it back so bad. But yeah, I hope to get a lifestyle where I have my self-sustaining solar-powered tree house with no bills. It’s there, it really is there and that’s what I’m doing in this artist eco village. They are building a village that’s completely self-sustainable, that’s growing its own herbs and vegetables and that has sonar panels. There are artists, healers and musicians as well and connected to the artist village there is a Buddhist monk and a Filipino shaman who you can talk to and get advice from. But when I went there I was by myself because everyone was gone and it was an incredible and very spiritual experience. But somebody then showed up after five days of being alone in the jungle with no electricity. So this guy showed up from Colorado and he built bamboo houses and we got to learn from each other, you know about things like unconditional giving, being self-sustainable within yourself and your surroundings, you know things like expressing yourself exactly how you want to express yourself. Just skipping the job and going straight to the source and focusing on your own self-growth and the growth of the community – that’s the idea ”
What’s up for 2015? Do you have any plans, or are you just going to go with the flow and see where the journey takes you?
“What happened to me last year was thrilling but I didn’t go back to Dallas. I mean yeah, everything was really flowing and I was learning a lot of things. I even learned how to surf last year, which was one of the highlights as well, so it’s all good vibes and I want more of that for this year. It’s quite a challenge actually balancing out all the different transitions and energies but ideally I just want to be creating while I am in these places. You know when I get the energy from a place, that’s what I want to express. When I’m in those places I feel very alive. I see a purpose and have a clear mind and I’m thinking about how everything has a life source. It’s less about mind and ego, but more about letting it come out the way it is, just letting whatever happens come out creatively.”
Words&interview: Goetz Werner
Photo credits: Kenneth Le, Brian Sergio, Thanin Viriyaki